Music… Transcends everything.

For the past few months, I have started listening to new music. This particular type of music has really grown in the North American market. It has been something that my kids and I can agree on and within this fandom, we have been able to bond.

So what is this fandom?? And what is the genre of music??

Drum roll please………..

It’s K-Pop!!! Also known as Korean Pop.

More specifically, my kids and I have bonded over our mutual love for the group BTS!!! They’re a South Korean boy group consisting of Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V, and Jung Kook.

Yes… I can say I’m A.R.M.Y! Stands for Adorable Representative MC for Youth. And so are my kids! We’re an A.R.M.Y house… Although Rios isn’t A.R.M.Y… He does like their music…. But I secretly think he’s a closet A.R.M.Y. Hahaha

So how did this happen?? Well… One day… We were watching YouTube and came across a channel called Bad Lip Reading. This guy creates funny lip readings based on movies, or TV shows, or even music videos like the one we saw. Rios clicked on it first. He goes… Hey…let’s watch this… The guy did a bad lip reading of BTS…. Here is the link for the Bad Lip Reading….

We watched the video and said… Oh goodness…. We have to watch the original video…. Low and behold, we watched the video and we were hooked!!

The song that hooked us was BTS’s Idol. Here is the link for the original song.

We started watching their videos from the time they debuted which was in 2013, until now. They have a large plethora of music in their repitoire. They used to be very hip hop based, but have softened their look and their music. With a whole mix of different music in between.

Rios spent 9 years keeping the boys away from hip hop and rap. It’s not something that is on his playlist at all. He has quite an extensive playlist from Christian music, to hard rock, to screamo bands, to girl k-pop groups. One thing he never had on his list was rap and hip hop. But BTS’s original music mostly consisted of rap and hip hop. Philip started listening to BTS and said to me and Rios “I think I like rap music.” Rios was shocked 😲 I heard him go “Nooooooooooo!” Hahaha He said to me after… I was prepared to hear “I hate you dad” when the kids get older, but I was not prepared for I like rap music. Haha He is still quite devastated about it. He says it’s like a dagger through his heart. I, on the other hand, like some rap and hip hop… Mostly 90’s stuff…. The stuff today is terrible!

Anyway….I have a few favourite BTS songs that I listen to regularly. A few of my favourites are Best Of Me, Butterfly, Spring Day, Go Go, Mic Drop, and the list goes on… Go ahead… I dare you to look up those songs on YouTube.

Philip has even picked up a lot of the choreography from their videos. I might get in trouble for sharing this video… But I’ll gladly take the hit.

This was when he first started learning their choreography…. He’s much much better now. And look… Rios is with him because they bonded over the choreography. For those who know Rios…. You know he never dances… But he wanted to do something with Philip to spark the interest in him…. And for that I love him even more. 😍 Now Philip has a love for dancing and will be having his first recital in May!

The second video is Aaron dancing along to BTS’s song Dope. Since this video… Aaron has added many songs to his list of songs to dance to.

So why BTS??

Honestly…. It just started with the one video and our fandom grew from there. I like the fact that they’re hip hop and rap is clean. They have a good message that is much better than the messages you’ll get from North American music. Even if we can’t fully understand what they’re saying… Music transcends everything.

My mom was even saying to Philip… “you should write to them and say that you want to dance with them when they come back to Canada, or I’ll pay for your ticket to go there.” ooooooh…. Mom can I go with him too? Clearly Philip is going to need a chaperone. They were in Canada just before we became fans…. We didn’t even know they had 3 concerts here. Way to miss the bandwagon….All I know is that when they come back, we’re going to the concert!!

I told Philip to practice and maybe that could be a dream of his come true, one day. Philip started taking hip hop classes and guess what song he’s going to be dancing to…. BTS’s Fake Love…. Which is the music in the above video. Philip learned all the original choreography. He taught himself, and his teacher had said he is really good. He has a natural talent for dancing…. If I was to compare him to one of the BTS members, I’d say he is most like Jung Kook because he is good at everything. They call Jung Kook the golden maknae (youngest). JK is good at a lot of things: Taekwondo, singing, dancing, cooking, drawing…. The list goes on.

Philip, in comparison, is talented at a lot of things: Judo, dancing, drawing, cooking. He hasn’t really tried singing, but we have musicians on both sides of the family, so I’m sure he could pick it up and be good at that too. For a kid his age… I’m proud of what he has accomplished in such a short time.

Philip’s favourite band member is RM. Isaac’s favourite is Jung Kook. Aaron’s favourite is Jimin. My favourite is also Jimin, but Jung Kook is a strong second. Rios’ favourite is J-Hope….even though he says he’s not A.R.M.Y. Hahaha 😂 I’m not buying it…. 😉 This whole thing has also opened up some food doors for us. Yes, you read that right… Before this Aaron would not try any new food… He was pretty picky… He still is, but if I say “Jimin eats this” he’s more likely to try it than he was before. He tried bok choy and marinated beef because of it. #parentingwin

Philip has also gotten his other brothers to love BTS too!

Here’s a picture of Philip and Isaac holding up a sign that they wanted me to tweet to BTS.

I had to download twitter onto my phone because of them.

Now… To the TOB part…

BTS’s latest series is Love Yourself…. While it is a good message… It is also an incomplete one.

Loving yourself involves self care and making sure you are who you are and that you love yourself as you are. But as Catholics, you know we are called to love as Christ loves… To sacrifice yourself for the good of others. It’s saying… You can’t give what you don’t have…. But the emphasis is on giving. You must take care of yourself but you must also care for others. That is the message that us Catholics must remember. We have to remind ourselves that we are living in this world, but we are not of this world. We belong to God in heaven.

Along these lines… Make sure to ask each other how you are…. Sincerely find out how your friends are. Find out what’s going on in their lives. Be there and support your friends. Spend time getting to one another. Life is a journey, so have fun finding out God’s plan for your life and find some music that will help you along the way.

For us at the Manrique-Reyes household, part of the music that bonds us is BTS.

Keep putting out music boys, and we’ll keep listening to it!

Comment below what your favourite BTS song is…

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog post!

Your sister in Christ,

Jeanette

Forgiveness doesn’t mean you forget!

So a few months ago, something serious happened that caused a huge rift in my family. I will not divulge the information so that the people involved will remain scandal free. I will not allude to what happened either, but know that going forward, things will NEVER be the same.

Upon further reflection on the matter of forgiveness, in the current situation, it would be easy for me to have an unforgiving attitude, but that does me no good. The only thing I get out of the situation is high blood pressure and perhaps a hurt jaw from all the clenching, so I choose to let it go.

The Bible does say that if you can’t forgive your brothers and sisters, then how can your father forgive you? Good question…. So what is someone supposed to do when he/she has been hurt?

Praying about it is a good start. Praying for the grace to let go of any hurt as well as praying for the people to see the error of their ways. That’s really the only way to move past it.

Perhaps talking about it would help…. But then what if the person who has faulted you sees that they have done nothing wrong? I don’t know… Cause it’s like talking to a brick wall. The only thing you can do is pray for them and move on. Forgive but never forget.

You know the old saying fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me…. Yeah well…. That is where we are now. I can say with an honest heart that I have forgiven the people who have done wrong…. Even if they choose not to see it. I have moved on, but I will not forget what they have done. I will also not go out of my way to have any kind of relationship with said people. I won’t even ask for an apology because to me, it doesn’t matter. The past is the past, but that doesn’t automatically change the dynamics of our relationship. I will forgive, which I have, but I will never forget.

They have chosen to draw a line in the sand to make me choose between my family and them…. And I will ALWAYS choose my family.

Perhaps you have done something for us in the past, and for that I am thankful, but does that mean we owe you something? I would hope not…. When you do something nice for another, you don’t do it so you can be thanked for it later, or use it as some kind of bargaining tool, you do it out of the kindness of your heart. You do it and expect nothing in return. We don’t owe anyone a relationship, no matter who you are. If you want to be a part of our life, you have to accept my whole family. We are a package deal and if one person in my family is deliberately excluded, you have now decided that we are no longer going to have any kind of relationship with you. My kids and my husband are my family and we are a unit, so when you deliberately exlude any of us, you are automatically excluding all of us.

One day maybe the people involved will see what they have done, but then again, maybe not….They have lost 6 people from their lives, and to me, they have lost more than we, as a family, have. We are stronger and more resilient than ever. We love each other fiercely and will always have each other’s backs, no matter what. That’s what a family does. They stick together; they fight for each other; and they love each other. Family will also not allow any part of the unit to be ridiculed, embarrassed, or devalued.

So to those of you reading this blog post, I still love you, and I will pray for you even if you hurt me, but I won’t forget what you did.

To err is human, to forgive divine. – Alexander Pope

The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naïve forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget. – Thomas Szasz

Picking and Being God Parents in the Catholic Church

Exciting times are coming ahead…Jacob will be getting baptized soon. So we’re getting ready and praying for Jacob’s Godparents.

Let me explain a few things about both being Godparents AND picking Godparents.

In our culture, (Filipino) we often pick more than one set of Godparents. It’s not the standard among Catholics, but if the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a baby, then it takes a whole army to raise a good and solid Catholic child. So if you ever go to a Filipino person’s child’s Baptism, be aware that they may have more than one set of Godparents for his or her child.

For each of our 4 children, we have picked more than one set of Godparents. They have ranged from siblings to friends and family members to priests and religious sisters. All of whom are very integral in the spiritual lives of our children… Or at least we hope. 🙂 And even if they’re not…. This is their chance to step up to the plate and make sure my kids are getting into heaven, because that is priority number 1 for our family.

So here are a few things to know before you pick your child’s next Godparents. Please keep in mind that these points are considered the bare minimum. Hopefully you pick someone that will do these things and more. If getting into heaven is your priority, then you must choose wisely.

Potential Godparents must be practicing Catholics in “good standing” and must strive to exhibit a “spirit of prayer” and moral effort and growth in love of God and neighbour.

They can also be Christian, but would be considered a Christian witness instead of a Godparent, and must be accompanied by a Catholic sponsor.

According to the Cathechism of the Catholic Church (Paragraphs 2042-2043) They should make every effort to

  • Attend mass on Sundays and Holy days of obligation
  • Go to confession at least once a year
  • Receive Holy Communion once a year during the Easter season
  • Observe the fast of Ash Wednesday and Good Friday as well as abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent
  • Help provide for the needs of the Church
  • Observe the laws of the Church concerning marriage

Now let me talk about these points briefly…. The above things describe a Catholic in good standing. But let’s be honest here… These things are the bare minimum. If you pick someone who doesn’t care to go to church or blatantly disagrees with what the Catholic Church teaches, it’s probably not wise to pick him or her to be a spiritual father or mother to your child.

Spiritual motherhood and fatherhood is the ultimate vocation of a man or a woman. Which is why priests and religious sisters can also participate in this wonderful sacrament as God parents.

Remember that if something happens to the parents, the responsibility of the Godparents is to make sure that the child in their life is brought up in the faith. It is a very serious responsibility to be a Godparent. And I hope whoever you pick will be able to live up to the task.

It is a lifelong journey to be a Godparent. As of today, I have 5 Godchildren: Ethan, Kyler, Evelyn, Olivia, and Jeremiah.

I hope that I can live up to the role that their parents have given me. I continue to pray for them daily, and even if I don’t see them all the time, they are close to my heart and I hope that my prayers for them will help keep them close to our Lord and His church.

Now a note to Godparents….

Please do your best to be there for your Godchildren. If you are not physically able to, at least offer your prayers for them.

Learn your faith. This is so important. If you aren’t firm in your faith or understand why the Catholic Church teaches what she does and why… Look for those answers. I can guarantee that you will find those answers within the church.

Offer up a mass for your Godchildren on their birthdays or Baptism day. Thankfully I have a close personal relationship with a priest that I can ask him to offer up mass for anyone I ask. 🙂

Stay close to the sacraments. Holy Mother Church has given us ways to stay close to Jesus. We are to receive the sacraments often and with reverence.

Go to confession! This goes along with the previous point, but this deserves a point of its own. The sacrament of reconciliation is the most under used sacrament. If only we knew the graces we receive after every confession, we would be utilizing this sacrament more. This sacrament allows us to withstand the sins we commit. It gives us the graces we need to stay close to Jesus.

There is so much more that can be said, but I will leave it for another time. All I can say is that being a Godparent is a huge responsibility and should not be taken lightly. We are responsible for the spiritual upbringing of the children in our care.

You must choose the Godparents of your child wisely. Pick people who are good and upstanding Catholics. And if at this point in time, they are not living up to the task, have a serious talk with them and maybe they will amend their ways.

Last year at the RCIA, there was a young man who came to through the process because he was asked to be a Godparent. He never received the sacrament of confirmation, and decided to do so because he wanted to be a good Godparent to his Godchild. I only hope and pray that he gathers the knowledge that he needs to be the best Godparent he can be.

Thank you for reading this blog post. If there are any topics you’d like me to write about, please leave them in the comments, and I will do my best to write about them.

Take care and God bless!

Your sister in Christ,

Jeanette

Breastfeeding and the Theology of the Body

Even after having 4 kids, you’d think that breastfeeding would come easier with the fourth kid, but nooooooooooo….. Jacob is throwing me for a loop. First it was the bottle feeding… That was interrupting the proper latch and his preference for the bottle seemed to overtake his want for breastfeeding, so we cut out the bottles. Second it is his latch, since he was bottle fed, his latch was smaller then the typical one. Mind you he also has a really small mouth because he’s a preemie, so we’ve been using a nipple shield to help open his mouth wider, but with that comes other problems: he doesn’t get as much milk as he would drinking from the bare breast. Third, since we’re using the nipple shield, he latches better using that than on the bare breast, but I’ve been working on getting him off the nipple shield. So that’s another transition. Fourth, he hasn’t been gaining as much weight as we’d hoped, so instead of adding formula, as other people would, we’ve been adding a tube while feeding him…to get him to a higher weight….Sigh…so many things going on.

There are usually 2 breastfeeding problems: 1) a milk production problem, where for whatever reason, your body isn’t producing as much milk as your baby needs and 2) a latching problem. This happens when your baby can’t latch properly and it makes breastfeeding hurt. For me, my problem has always been a latching problem. I have never had a problem with milk production, thankfully, but on the other hand, a latching problem can make any mother quit breastfeeding because it really hurts if you don’t get the help you need. Sigh… This is such hard work. Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone, and it is the least talked about in parenting classes, but let me tell you…. It puts things into perspective.

How much are you willing to sacrifice for your baby… To try to give him/her the best possible nutrition… It’s really hard… And the sad thing is… A lot of mothers give up before their babies. One thing I have learned in my life regarding breastfeeding is NEVER give up! If you’re willing to sacrifice yourself for it, it will be totally worth it. There is help out there if you really want it. But first you have to get over the painful latches of the milk production issues to be able to be in the clear.

Over the last few days, Jacob and I have been struggling with breastfeeding. He’s been fussy a lot at night which means that I’ve been up nursing him. I feel like I’ve been nursing him non stop over the last few days. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

Breastfeeding takes a lot of patience, persistence and a heck of a lot of the miracle nipple cream I was prescribed! Let me tell you… Without that nipple cream, I don’t know where I’d be.

Thinking about how this relates to the Theology of the Body… In so many ways, a mother is that child’s representative of Jesus, metaphorically, of course.

She willingly feeds her child, losing sleep and other things that come along with it. But if you knew what the milk was, you’d also understand the parallels with that of the Holy Eucharist.

What is the Holy Eucharist? It’s literally transformed from bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. See John chapter 6 in the Bible. Jesus’ body and blood becomes the sustenance for our lives. If we eat of his flesh and drink his blood, we will have eternal life. He is the life source of our lives.

In the same way it can be for breastfeeding…the mother’s body and blood is transformed into sustenance for that little baby. Without the milk, the baby would die. But I guess one of the most beautiful things to think about is that mothers get to feed their babies just like the Blessed Mother fed the baby Jesus. She gave up her body for him so he could live by drinking the milk that her body produced.

If breastfeeding doesn’t make you a saint, I don’t know what will. While I’m sitting here, feeding Jacob, sometimes I wonder why I don’t just quit breastfeeding this little boy… And as I contemplate this, I think no… I could never give up on this. This is my sacrifice for him but also for those who need prayers. My struggle will be offered up for those who need and want prayers. So if you’d like me to remember you during my struggle please comment on this post, and I’ll be sure to pray for you during my breastfeeding journey.

Before I end this post, if you could also lift me up in your prayers, I could really use them. Breastfeeding is hard, but one thing I’ve learned is… Get the help…it’s out there if you need it.

This is where I got my help…

The Doctor’s Breastfeeding Clinic

The doctors here are great! And so is the lactation consultant. I wouldn’t have made it this far without their help.

One last note… I was reading another blog about 5 saints who should be known by breastfeeding mothers, and one that really stood out was St. Zelie Martins. She was the mother of St. Therese of Lisieux. She was unable to breastfeed her children and had to send them to live with wet nurses because she couldn’t feed them. And many of them died while they were separated from her. 😮 Can you imagine?? Your babies died because you couldn’t breastfeed them?? I’d be devastated and I’m sure she was. So I’m that note, I’ll end this blog with a short prayer.

St. Giles (patron saint of breastfeeding and breastfeeding mothers, St. Zelie, and Our Lady of La Leche, please pray for all the breastfeeding mothers out there that are struggling and wanting to give up! Give them the will to keep going even when they want to stop. Allow them to enter into the suffering deeply and unite it with that of Christ and the Blessed mother. Allow them to persevere by your grace. All this we ask in Jesus’ name! Amen!

My little milk monster! He keeps me on my toes!

Your sister in Christ,

Jeanette

Adjusting to life as a mom of 4.

It’s been a week since Jacob has come home. It’s been fun and frustrating. Haha… Two very polarizing f words.

It’s been fun because Jacob has been a real gem. He’s a very sweet little boy. People are constantly asking us… Oh how many days old is he? And my response is… Don’t be deceived, he’s older than he looks….hahaha guess it could be the same thing for Rios. He still gets the whole… You look so young speech from people…But I notice they never say that about me… Huh… Must be the bags under my eyes and the ponytailed hair that must be giving away my age.

And on the other hand, it’s been frustrating because as much as I love my kids, they drive me crazy. They want to touch Jacob, kiss him, play with him, and be near him while I’m trying to breastfeed him. There’s nothing like telling your kid… Ummmm… Your brother is trying to drink his milk… Please give him, (me), space cause you’re crowding him (your face is too close to my breast)…. Get away child! Haha

Yup… That’s pretty much my life right now… A long list of to do lists… Feeding, changing, playing, praying… Ahhhh…. To be a mom of 4 is so fun!

We took Jakey, yes that’s Jacob’s nickname, to church for the first time on Sunday, and it was great seeing so many familiar faces. I love the community that we have at church. I look around and there’s people from all walks of life sharing in the great mystery of the Eucharist alongside me. How beautiful it is to witness such communion with others. One lady mentioned to us that her daughter lost a baby around 34 weeks, so the same age Jakey was when he was born, and it was devastating for her….of course…. That would be devastating for anyone. Everytime she looked at Jakey she’d start to tear up. But then she’d say that we were very blessed to have such a wonderful family. She was very kind. And a bonus and total parenting win was that my children all behaved at mass! Yesssssssss…. It pays off! Parenting a child for the Lord has slightly paid off on Sunday! I wrote a post a few years ago about mass and children…. Here’s the link…

https://tobcatholicmom.com/2016/04/25/mass-and-children-the-two-can-go-together/

The definite thing that I need to adjust to is caring for a newborn again. While Jacob was in the nicu, it was hard for me to picture life as a mom of 4. It felt like I was just watching someone else have the baby instead of me. It was only when we brought him home that reality started to sink in that our lives would change by adding another baby into the mix of life. Let me tell you, this kid is throwing me for a loop. He’s very different than my other three.

Jacob is the only one that stayed in the nicu. He was the only one that was a teeny tiny baby. He also is the only one that I bottle fed…I am planning to breastfeed him, but we’re working on that right now. Because he was away from me, I had to pump and bottle feed this little guy, so we’re working on establishing the breastfeeding.

If you’re looking for help with breastfeeding, I’ve only had success with this particular clinic: The Dr. Breastfeeding clinic. http://www.Drbfc.net they have helped me with all my breastfeeding problems…they’ve been there for me for all my 4 kids, and I highly recommend them

Anyway….it’s been an adjustment getting used to the newborn cries and all that comes with it.

Fun and frustrating are the two words I would use at this time to describe my experience this time around.

Thanks again to my readers for reading my blog. Please share the link with anyone that you think can learn a thing or two from me…. Or if you’d like to have a laugh or cry with me. Subscribe to the blog!

Also, if you’d like me to write about something in particular, please let me know.

Take care and God bless,

Your sister in Christ,

Jeanette

 

Discharge Day!

Today is the day we’ve been waiting for! It’s the day we get to take Jacob home! Oh my goodness … What a roller-coaster of emotions that are coming with it. It’s truly a bittersweet time right now. The nurses at the nicu made our lives so much better. I am truly thankful to the nurses that took care of my son. Pod 2, bed 2 was where he was for the better part of 5 weeks.

He first arrived there at 1140g. For those who don’t understand, he arrived as a 2lb 5oz baby… And he is leaving as a 1945g or 4lb 3oz baby!

I hope you know how much you mean to all of us. I will try to name all the nurses that I can, but please don’t be upset if I forget a name or two… Believe me, any little thing you did for my son, you also did for me and my family, and for that I am truly grateful!

To the following nurses, I want to personally thank you: Evelyn, Brandon, Sumol, Sue, Barb, Kavita, Sherry, Nima, Betty, Paula, Jennifer, Jessica, Liz, Wendy, Megan, Sally, Tanvir, Hibba, Molly and anyone else I missed. I also want to thank the admin team at the front: Camay and Jessica! You both made coming into the nicu everyday a pleasure.

The care and love that you have given to Jacob while he was there was so appreciated! There are so many words I could say, but at this point, I’m at a loss!

You have been so special to us during this journey, and I thank God everyday for bringing you into our lives. We will come back and visit and we hope to see some of you.

We love you very much and we hope that you continue to care for the other babies as you did for our little Jacob!

With that being said, we will pray for you!

On the back of one of the nurse’s shirts it said, “the nurses in the nicu have the future of the world in the palms of their hands!”

God bless you always,

Love 😍

Jacob (baby), Jeanette (mom), Rios (dad), Philip (eldest), Isaac (second), and Aaron (third)

First comes the baby… Then come the feelings and emotions!

Two blog posts in a week? I must have hit a new record! Haha

Thank you for reading my last blog post! I’m very grateful to the people who read it. It was my most read blog post to date, so yay! 😀

I have been off Facebook for a bit .. I needed a detox… It was sucking the life out of me, but my blog gets automatically uploaded to Facebook, so if you left a comment, I’m sorry, I haven’t read them… I’ll eventually be back on, but I don’t know when.

Anyway… Back to this post…

This has been a trying time having Jacob so early and leaving him in the care very wonderful nurses. It’s been manageable being away from him, but what I didn’t expect is the emotions and feelings that I have been going through.

With my other three, I never experienced the amount of emotions that I am currently….it’s hard to admit, but I feel like I’m suffering from post partum depression…..dun…dun…dun…

The three words no one ever wants to admit. But saying it out loud has a way of empowering the person who said it. You know what they say… The first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem.

So I’m freely admitting it to the readers of this blog. I think I am suffering from post partum depression!

Maybe my struggle will help you to overcome yours….

Generally, I’m a very private person. I don’t really share my life wth everyone… Hence why many people had no clue I was even pregnant. I’m just like that. It takes some time for me to trust people and if that trust is ever broken, it’s even harder to earn it back.

So this past week, the post partum depression hit me hard… Like a ton of bricks. I was supposed to write a certification exam on Friday, but I realized I was in no shape, mentally, to even begin to write it. During the exam… I started bawling uncontrollably. I stopped writing the exam and laid down. The depression got the better of me.

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed since I left the hospital less than four weeks ago. My recovery has been great. Physically I feel like I’m on the road to recovery, but I think people forget that I just had major surgery 4 weeks ago. Like what was I doing going to a bbq on Canada day after just having surgery? What was I doing cooking meals for my family after having just gotten out of the hospital? Why did I decide to go to two musicals within a few days of each other after having only given birth a week to a week and a half prior?? I must have really looked good to people on the outside… Because inside I felt like I was going to cry or scream at any time.

I was supposed to go out with friends on Friday, but I totally bailed, and I didn’t even mention it to them. I couldn’t go out… Truthfully, I didn’t want to go anywhere with anyone… I didn’t want to contact anyone…. I just wanted to either stay home in bed or stay at the hospital with my premature infant son. It felt like being at the hospital was the only source of relief. I didn’t have to cook or take care of my other children…All I had to do was be present for my little preemie. I could do that! I could actually sit and watch a whole episode of Brooklyn 99 without hearing “mom” 50 times during one episode

I was feeling depressed and angry all in one body. How can a person like me…who’s normally bubbly and positive be feeling this?? I’ve never felt like this before. I don’t feel like myself. On the surface, if you saw me, you’d think… Wow she’s doing great… But inside I want to either cry or kick someone’s face in. I hope I never get to the point where I actually act on my emotions. I’d never kick someone’s face in, but I’d probably think about it long and hard. Hahaha….

The important thing to note is that if you start feeling like this… Reach out for help…I spoke with one of my good friends who I know would be able to pray for me about this matter… He’s a priest! One of the best around! He offered mass for me twice in two days! I literally cried because I knew the only way to get through this was to rely on God to help! The highest form of prayer is the mass, so thank you to my dear friend for offering mass on my behalf! It is what helped me.

Of course I told Rios too! I’m just happy he’ll be able to be home when he goes on parental leave in a week. I’ll be able to get more help with the kids. If you know my kids, they’re very active! I love them to death, but I can’t deal with them too much right now. I’m exhausted, hungry, irritable and sad! It’s not the kind of emotion you want your children to see.

They deserve their mom to be happy and loving. I want to get back to my former self, but I know it will take time. Until then, I will suffer through this, emotions and all, and I will offer up my suffering for others!

So if you’re reading this, please know that you’re not alone! There are people willing to help you. No one is an island… Even though sometimes you wish you were… It’s better to live in a crowded village than to realize you’re alone on the island you created.

Do your best to keep people close to you! If you ever need to chat, shoot me a comment, and I’d be more than happy to engage in fruitful conversations.

God bless you, my readers!

May we always be united!

Your sister in Christ,

Jeanette

Preemie babies and Theology of the Body

I know it’s been a while since I last wrote anything for this blog, and I’m not making excuses, but life definitely got in the way of keeping up with this blog. However … I’m back now and hopefully I can contribute more to the blogosphere.

Ok…. So update….. I had a fourth baby… Another wonderful baby BOY! I know what you’re thinking… Another boy? Was it planned?  Were you going for a girl this time around? And. … You gonna go for the girl?? As in… Are you going to go for the fifth baby?

Let me start by saying that I love my kids and they bring me so much joy…even if they drive me crazy sometimes. To answer your lingering questions though… Yes another boy; yes it was planned with more thought; no we weren’t going for a girl persay, but if we happened to be blessed with a girl, great… If not, I know boys, so it’s not much of a stretch; but to answer the big question you’re all thinking…Yes we are open to having more children!

Say whaaaat?? Yes… We’re open to having more if God blesses us with more children. That’s part of what we agreed to when we took our wedding vows: “Are you prepared to accept children lovingly from God and to bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?” and the answer is an absolute YES! I just hope we are able to because I have had 2 C-section. It is a little more complicated to have children after the second C-section.

The story behind this little one is a bit of an epic tale. Rios and I were hoping to have a 4th child because when we first got married, we wanted to have 2 or 4 kids, so after Aaron was born we realized we would love to have another, so we decided to get back on the Billings Ovulation Method bandwagon and intentionally work with God to make it happen. It definitely wasn’t as easy as it was before. I was at my heaviest weight and having very irregular cycles.

Sidenote: using the Billings Ovulation Method has helped me figure out issues within my cycle.

http://www.toronto.naturalfamilyplanning.ca

I figured out that I had thyroid issues and low vitamin D, so as soon as I got those things taken care of, I found out that I was pregnant! What a joyous occasion! This pregnancy, however, was my hardest one to date. I was told that there was a chance that this baby would have down syndrome. I also ended up getting gestational diabetes with this pregnancy. On top of that, this baby was considered high risk because he was an intrauterine growth restricted baby aka (iugr) with only 2 blood vessels running through the umbilical cord.

So when he was born, he was 2 pounds 5 ounces. Even at 34 weeks, he was as tiny as a 30 weeker. He was very feisty when he was born though. His apgar score was 10. You don’t even see that in babies that are born to term. Needless to say, I knew he would change my world when he arrived. I wasn’t even expecting him to come when he did. I was in the hospital for a non stress test: they hook you up to the monitors to check the movements of the baby, but during the test, the doctor said his movements were not adequate, so they sent me for an ultrasound. After the ultrasound, they sent me back to labour and delivery for my results, and during that time, the doctor said that the fluid around the baby was depleting. This began my journey as a preemie mom.

He was delivered via C-section and I was happy but at the same time sad. It’s hard to sit back knowing that your little baby was taken so early from the warmth of your womb and now has to stay in the care of others. I was also sad knowing that the possibility of a large family was now limited by the multiple surgeries.

The first time I got to meet him was after breakfast the next day. I couldn’t believe my eyes at how small he was. I didn’t know what to do because he was so tiny. I was in awe that I had been a co-creator along with my husband and with God to bring this little human into the world. What a huge blessing this little guy has been in our lives.

He has been in the nicu for just over three weeks now, and it has definitely been an experience. There is an element of letting go of your little baby in the hopes that he will get the best care even though you wish he could come home with you. It’s realizing that you can’t give him what he needs right now. That he needs to be in the care of the nurses while you are at home waiting and pumping. There is also the element of pumping even when you don’t want to.

Let me pause for a minute and reflect on pumping versus breastfeeding. Let me tell you one thing… Breastfeeding is sooooooo much easier than pumping. When a mom breastfeeds her baby, you’re all he needs. No extra bottles, people, and sanitizing. But on the other hand, pumping requires an element of giving of yourself in a different way. Even though your baby isn’t with you physically, you are still responsible for producing the milk that sustains him. You still have to wake up every three hours to pump or your milk either won’t come in or it will diminish. It’s a different kind of giving of yourself. It is a weird feeling being away from your baby because while you’re pumping to keep up your milk supply, you’re essentially feeding a machine. It’s also a bit harder to connect with your baby because you are separated from him. When pumping you still have the very real consequences of sore nipples. It hurts and sometimes you want to cry because you are tired, sore, and cranky, but you keep moving forward because you know that little life that you birthed is depending on you.

So how does the Theology of the Body relate to having a preemie baby? It relates very much. In general, babies are the epitome of the Theology of the Body. Birthing a baby is living the Theology of the Body. But having a preemie is another aspect of TOB. It is giving of yourself even when you are away from the baby. It is trusting the nurses to take care of your new little bundle of joy. Without those nurses, you would be a hot mess. You have to rely on your village to raise a family. If we are meant for communion, you definitely live this way because those nurses are the ones that are caring for your little one while your are at home trying to live your life and be a part of your baby’s life. They make it possible for your baby to thrive, and sure it’s their job, but at the same time, they love what they do and the nurses at the nicu where my little guy is, well they’re fantastic! I want to thank each and every nurse that has taken care of my baby. If you’re reading this, please know that I appreciate all you do and I thank you for loving my son while I’ve been unable to care for him fully. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

I once asked Christopher West what kind of advice he could give to a mother who was about to give birth to a baby in a few weeks, and his response was perfect.

“I have nothing but deep reverence for the mystery about to be revealed through the Theology of your body!! Christ used labor pains and birth as an image of the paschal mystery. You are entering bodily into a sign that encompasses the mystery of existence, of creation, fall, and redemption. Live it prayerfully… Offer all of your sufferings for the redemption of the world… The veil between heaven and earth is very thin in these moments… ”

– Christopher West

As I reflect on the actual delivery of my new baby boy… It is very much like living in union with Christ at the time. I was laying down on the operating table, vulnerable and in the form of Christ. My arms were spread out just like Christ’s were on the cross. I was giving life and at the same time losing a bit of myself and my heart to this little life. Every time a new baby is born into my family, my heart expands to allow more love to exist. Love can only grow more with the addition of more children. That is what it means to live the Theology of the Body to live freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully. Love until it hurts, and even when it hurts, keep loving more because that’s how we are called to love one another. We are called to love one another as Christ loves the church in that he gave his life up for us. Love day to day in the small things and you will be able to love in the big things!

Welcome to the world Jacob Xavius Manrique-Reyes! We love you!

Book Review: Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve written anything on my blog.  It has been a crazy few months.  We just came back from California, but that is a story for another blog post….

This particular blog post deals with my very first book review on my blog.  I was blessed to received an advanced copy of Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body written by a slew of different authors. In all honesty, it is the first anthology that I have read?? Or is it…  I don’t remember… hahaha

Let’s start the review… buckle up…. here we go!!!

This is where you can buy it:

Image and Likeness on Amazon.ca

Image and Likeness on Amazon.com

My overall feeling about the book was that it left me with a sort of unsettling feeling after reading a few of the author contributions.  There were some great stories, but there were ones that really left me feeling uncomfortable and very uneasy.  I’m not sure if that is the response that I’m supposed to be feeling, but that’s honestly how I felt.

I have read quite a few books about the Theology of the Body, some novels that had TOB related themes, but I never felt the uneasiness I felt reading this collection of stories.

I think a few of the stories got the TOB cry of the heart correct, and the author was able to portray that in his or her work, but for some, I don’t think it related to the TOB themes.

There was a particular story that dealt with superstition. This was probably my least favourite short story.  It set up the rest of the book to make me feel extremely uncomfortable.  I wondered after reading this story, if this was what all the stories were going to make me feel like.  I didn’t want to continue reading the book, but a few of my favourite authors contributed to the anthology, so I decided to keep reading.

One written by Leslie Lynch kept me wanting to know more about the characters in her short story…. What is she going to do??  Will they get married??  Will she go through with it?? I really enjoyed reading her particular short story, and it was one of the reasons I kept reading.

Theresa Linden is another author I enjoyed reading.  She wrote a few great stories for this collection, but I think her first story needed a brief introduction.  I knew what she was writing about because I have read a number of her novels, so I’ve come across her characters before, but for the untrained Theresa readers, they may not understand that her first short story takes place in a post apocalyptic society.  The characters in her story are from her series Chasing Liberty.

Overall, would I read the book again??  Probably not.  I might read a few of the stories in the distant future but not the whole book.

Here is a list of the contributing authors

Would I recommend this book??  Maybe…  It wouldn’t be the first book I would recommend people read if they were searching for good fiction books on TOB, but if a person was specifically looking for an anthology, I’d recommend it.

Out of 5, I’d probably give it a 2.5.  It was okay.  The few stories that were great weren’t enough to override the ones that left me feeling restless.

The Theology of my body

So 2 months ago, I attended the second Theology of the Body course in Quarryville, Pennsylvania, and it was truly amazing! I LOVE how the TOB community is very tight knit. I attended the course with a few people I saw last year at the first TOB course, and we became closer through our love for TOB and for each other!

Reality has set in though and the weight of the responsibility has set me on fire for the Lord and this prophetic message!

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of my experience at the retreat, let me share an experience that I shared with my TOB friends at the retreat. It has really put things into perspective for me. I never considered my body to be a theology, but boy, was I wrong. I always thought that my body will be a gift, and sure…. it’s easy enough when you’re a parent… you’re ALWAYS a gift…but when the true nature of being a gift is called into question, things change.

A few weeks before the course, our friends got married, and it was a beautiful wedding. One of the sponsors at the wedding recently had a baby a few weeks prior, so I was asked to take care of him, and of course, I said YES! I LOVE babies!!

As I was taking care of him, he started to get fussy, so I rocked him, stood up, burped him… but he would have none of it. I quickly walked to the back as the entire wedding party was lining up and told his mom that he was hungry. She was unsure what to do because the wedding procession was going to start in a few minutes. My husband, being the TOB supporter, steps out and says “who’s going to be the wet nurse? Charity right?” and both the baby’s mom and I looked at each other and I said “I’m ok to feed him as long as you are… I don’t want him to be hungry.” And she said “tob right? Charity!” I was in such awe from that moment. I knew I had to be a gift for this little incarnate soul. He was hungry, so I fed him out of love and charity for him and his mom.

Wait whaaaaat????  You breastfed another baby??  Some of you are probably thinking this… and to you I say Yes…yes I did!!  I did it with joy and love for God. My understanding of the theology of the body made that decision easier for me to love another human that wasn’t directly related to me.

I must say that it was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve had.  I mean breastfeeding in general is a beautiful experience, but it is different when it’s your own child and when it’s someone else’s.  At that moment, I remember feeling awestruck and simply in love.  I was able to be a gift for someone other than my family and it was beautiful.

It only really hit me how powerful this witness was to me and to my fellow TOB retreat goers.  I shared this story with them during our Thursday bonfire, and a few women after came and told me that it was such a great story and that they would pray for me. One woman said that I would forever be her example of Our Lady of Laleche.  Every time she sees someone breastfeeding a baby, she will think of me and pray for me.  🙂  What wonderful people to offer up prayers for you.

Fast forward a few months later, and what have I realized….  There are so many things I can say about this experience.

It helped me have more reverence towards our blessed mother Mary.  She is the original Our Lady of la Leche.  She nursed the baby Jesus in order to sustain His life, and in turn, He gave up His to save hers.  WOW!!!!!  I, somehow, was able to participate in the very act of charity that sustained my friend’s baby as well as the charity that allowed Jesus to live.  We never think about Mary breastfeeding Jesus, but in reality she did.  What else would she have done??  She loved him enough to give up her life to care for him.  She had sleepless nights, fussy baby blues, breastfeeding aches, but yet she still gave up her life to take care of the one who gave up his. We often forget that Mary was human with real struggles and real parenting fails, but she, with the grace of God, took care of Jesus.  What a lovely reminder for us mothers… Mary was once in our shoes, so she knows our hearts better than anyone.

The theology of the body has taught me that we all long for closeness and love, and the only way to show and express love is to give of yourself fully.  To give of yourself to another freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully is the only way to truly live life. If you’re going to live, live with love.  If you’re going to love, love till it hurts.  If you’re going to be a gift, give yourself fully. When they say “no man is an island” it’s true.  No one can live by themselves devoid of the rest of the world. My dad once shared with me that “God made me to know him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this life and be happy with him forever in the next.” I will forever take those words with me as I move forward in life.  That one moment where I gave myself to love and serve another little human has forever changed my life, and for that experience, I am truly grateful.